Handshake for change

June 12, 2018 EDITORIAL 95 Views
Handshake for change

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and Pakistani President, Mamnoon Hussain, Sunday exchanged pleasantries in China at the culmination of the 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit. They shook hands and this came in the backdrop of a visible thaw in the relations between the two countries. New Delhi has already invited the separatists for talks, though Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, in his recent visit to Kashmir refrained from inviting the Hurriyat for dialogue. But certain measures like the suspension of the non initiation of combat operations (NICO) have served to affirm the need for talks. The gesture of exchanging the pleasantries only reinforces the need for the two countries to sort out issue of Kashmir which is the cause for their estrangement. The violence in Kashmir has claimed thousands of lives while as the continuous firing along the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB) has disrupted the lives and lead to the dislocation of hundreds of families. The two countries have fought four wars since independence from Britain in 1947, three of them over Kashmir. Modi and Hussain were among the leaders who attended the media briefing where India and Pakistan participated as full-fledged members. The relations between the two countries are at ebb since 2014. On Aug 19 2014, Modi had called off talks between foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan as a mark of displeasure as Pakistan had invited Kashmiri separatists for consultations to New Delhi. This had happened for the first time and drew condemnation and since then the Kashmir has seen escalation in violence during the public protests over the deaths of militants as well as along the LoC. However Modi’s policy also betrays a lack of consistency. Modi had invited former Pakistani PM, Nawaz Sharif, on the occasion of his oath taking ceremony and had even made an “ important gesture” in December 2015 by making a surprise stopover in Pakistan to meet Sharif while he was on his way back to India after a visit to Russia. It was for the first time an Indian prime minister had visited Pakistan in more than a decade. But subsequently the relations between the two sides were marked by hostilities as heavily armed militants attacked an army camp in Uri which provoked a surgical strike by Indian Army. There is a need that the India and Pakistan move beyond symbolism and engage in a sustained dialogue to resolve issues including the festering Kashmir problem.

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